Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Field Trip!

A Field Trip to the Egyptian Museum

It's field trip day, YEAH!!!  There haven't been too many field trip these last few weeks, so we were due for a fun one.  I wasn't sure this was going to be classified by my kids as a "fun one" but they really enjoyed it.  We went to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, CA.  I had never heard of this place before and wasn't sure if it would be kid-friendly, but I figured the few adults that were there on a Wednesday afternoon at 1pm would just have to deal with it.  Didn't matter anyway because the kids REALLY enjoyed it and were very well behaved.  Plus, the 2 middle school field trips that were also there totally drowned us out :)  We saw real mummies of people and animals - did you know they mummified animals too?  There was a replica of an underground tomb that you walked through (spooky and fun) and lots and lots of ancient artifacts.  There were models of tombs and temples and examples of items used by everyday people.  The kids got a "Passport to Ancient Egypt" that they stamped in every exhibit and they seemed genuinely interested in the displays.  Did we read every description and see every display case?  No, but I usually gloss over a lot of the small details anyway.  Did we have a great experience and learn a lot about Ancient Egypt? Totally.  My daughter even came home with her passport and wrote me a note using the hieroglyphics chart on the back of her little book.  My camera kept messing up (I know what I want for Christmas) so I missed a couple of good pictures but here are a few from our day!

The museum from the outside. A very beautiful building with gardens surrounding it.

Some of the statues guarding the entrance.  Sheep or rams I guess.
A heart scarab- put over the heart of a mummy to protect it in the afterlife.
A model of a pyramid.  Sorry, I can't remember which one :)
One of the many statues of a Pharoah.  They all had the same pose.

Canopic jars that held the removed organs of the mummy so they can be re-used in the afterlife.
A real Mummy!!! Not a pharoah - just some regular guy from thousands of years ago.
Another mummy, this one unwrapped a little more.  Kids handled this better than I expected.
A golden statue like the type that would have been in a pharoah's tomb.
 Cats were sacred in Ancient Egypt which, unfortunately for them, meant they got mummified too when their owner died. The one on the left is a mummy.
 The wooden coffin from a mummy - apparently only the kings got the fancy golden ones.
The kids riding the Sphinx.  I swear we didn't see the "Please Keep Off Statue" sign until after!  A beautiful day in Ancient Egypt or, as my daughter refers to it, "Agent" Egypt :) 

The Scarab Beetle

Got dung?

What?!  Dung, you know, poop.  Why, you may ask, do you need that?  Well, in Ancient Egypt, the lowly dung beetle, or scarab beetle, was one of the most important symbols.  To understand why first we need to learn about the beetle.  Dung beetles find a nice ball of poop and roll it along the ground to its burrow, then the female lays its eggs in the ball.  The eggs hatch and the larvae eat the dung (ewww).  Then the larvae form a pupa and finally emerge fully formed from the ball of dung.  Metamorphoses in action.  However, ancient people had no science to understand this, so it must be the work of a god. They thought the beetles were just springing out of the ground and gave them the name "Khepera" or "Khepri", which means "he was come forth".  As the scholars tried to explain more of the way the world works, they associated the scarab beetle with the sun, it went something like this.  The (invisible?) scarab god would push his ball (the sun) across the sky and bury it (sunset), the ball would undergo its changes and re-emerge from the west the next morning.  Repeat daily.  I guess people back then didn't question the scholars too much because this story is pretty implausible, but it does explain why a beetle, basically a smelly, poop-covered cockroach was such an important symbol in Egypt.  We decided to make out own scarabs - minus the dung.

Art Project: Sacred Scarabs

For the project you will need:
  • paper plates- I found some oval shaped platters to look more beetle shaped, but round would work too.
  • black paper for legs and pincers
  • paint and brushes
  • glitter if you prefer a sparklier insect
1.  Paint your scarab whatever color you choose.  There are many different colors of beetles.  Not even sure what color it "should" be. They have wings so we painted a line down the back.
2.  Cut out legs and pincers.  the pincers go on front - shaped like big parentheses ( )  The front legs are longer and have a little crook (see picture) and the two sets of rear legs are just straight.  6 legs and 2 pincers per scarab.  I cut them out for the kids, but older kids could do it.
3.  Glue on legs/pincers and some eyes - I cut eyes out of paper or you could use googly eyes.  My son's scarab had 3 eyes and a "nose" but my daughter and I only used 2.

There, now all you need is a big ol' ball of poop.  We are using ours as part of our Halloween decorations outside.  They are going to be the giant spider's dinner.